The Drosophila gene Serrate encodes a transmembrane protein with 14 EGF-like repeats in its extracellular domain. Here we show that loss-of-function mutations in this gene lead to larval lethality. Homozygous mutant larvae fail to differentiate the anterior spiracles, exhibit poorly developed mouth-hooks and show a severe reduction in the size of the wing and haltere primordia, which is not due to cell death. The few homozygous mutant escapers that pupariate develop into pharate adults that almost completely lack wings and halteres. Clonal analysis in the adult epidermis demonstrates a requirement for Serrate during wing and haltere development. Targeted ectopic expression of Serrate in the imaginal discs using the yeast transcriptional activator Gal4 results in regionally restricted induction of cell proliferation, e.g. the ventral tissues in the case of the wings and halteres. The results suggest that the wild-type function of Serrate is required for the control of position-specific cell proliferation during development of meso- and metathoracic dorsal discs, which in turn exerts a direct effect on morphogenesis.
beta 3 tubulin expression accompanies the specification and differentiation of the Drosophila mesoderm. The genetic programs involved in these processes are largely unknown. Our previous studies on the regulation of the beta 3 tubulin gene have shown that upstream sequences guide the expression in the somatic musculature, while regulatory elements in the first intron are necessary for expression in the visceral musculature. To further analyse this mode of regulation, which reflects an early embryonic specification program, we undertook a more detailed analysis of the regulatory capabilities of the intron. The results reveal not only a certain degree of redundancy in the cis-acting elements, which act at different developmental stages in the same mesodermal derivatives, but they also demonstrate in the visceral mesoderm, which forms a continuous epithelium along the body axis of the embryo, an early action of regulators guiding gene expression along the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo: an enhancer element in the intron leads to expression in a subdomain restricted along the anterior-posterior axis. This pattern is altered in mutants in the homeotic gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx), whereas ectopic Ubx expression leads to activity of the enhancer in the entire visceral mesoderm. So this element is likely to be a target of homeotic genes, which would define the beta 3 tubulin gene as a realisator gene under the control of selector genes.